First let’s start with a self-practise review. Things haven’t exactly gone to plan. I soon realised that doing the exact sequence every day turns yoga into a predictable chore. So, I ditched the strict manual and decided to give myself creative license. Before the session, I try to have some vague structure whilst still focusing on my weaknesses. Changing one pose for another like-pose or switching the order up has been the key to both maintaining and enjoying my practise.
I’m not really sure why but I’ve also been doing much more meditation recently. Before it would be maybe 15–20 minutes of daily meditation as preparation for Yoga. Now it’s an hour every day and I consider it to be a standalone activity. I wake up, whack some incense on, have a cold shower, drink some herbal tea, wrap myself in a cosey blanket and then do my meditation. Maybe it’s the combination of all the above, I don’t know, but i’m really loving my morning sits.
On the topic of Meditation there is a cool dude called Regi, here at the Iyengar centre. Regi helps align people while in classes, is a thai masseuse and also runs a 121 breathing work shop. From the start I liked his vibe so I decided to have a 2-hour breathing session. Beforehand, all I knew was that we’d practising various breathing techniques. The session begun with Regi asking me about 30 minutes of some pretty up close, personal questions. This was for Regi to identify any emotional blockages and therefore physically locate them on my body. Regi mentioned that we’d be working with the Muladhara chakra which is situated at the base of the spine. After Regi said this I knew the session would be about actively raising my kundalini. For those unaware Kundalini is a primal energy which forms 21 days after conception and lays dormant like a sleeping serpent at the location of the muladhara chakra. We begun with the breathwork where I had to take big deep breaths with my mouth open. During this time Regi was poking and massaging my abdomen area. About 30 minutes in, I got triggered and experienced a purge of emotions. It was pretty intense and I could feel warm sensations on my hands, chest and forehead. I’ve never done something like that before and would really recommend it to anyone who’s willing to try new things! All the teachers are very well trained. They they must first practise the technique vigorously themselves before being allowed to conduct sessions. http://www.transformationalbreath.com/
Onto the main course. 4 weeks of Iyengar Yoga, check! Looking back at the first two weeks, I now realise that I wasn’t really practicing Iyengar in it’s true form. Yes, I was doing the poses but I didn’t combine the Iyengar mentality too. My reference for this has indeed been the trusty shoulder stand. In the first two weeks, I survived in this pose for 15–20 minutes each day but I kept adjusting myself, focused on pain in my back and really didn’t like the feeling of having numb, motionless hands as a result of the inversion. It was just a massive fight. Only, in the final week did I do the pose AND apply the Iyengar mindset which is to completely surrender. Whilst in the pose, the teacher laid out every single sensation/urge I was experiencing and told us to acknowledge first and then surrender fully. Something clicked I literally whispered f*** this shit I give in. As a result, and in the very final class I managed to hold the shoulder stand for 40 minutes. My shoulders began to sink into the mat and those previous desires to move slowly disappeared. I learnt not to engage in any unpleasant sensations. Whenever one arose I mentally said ‘I seeeee you’ and then just went back to focusing on my breathing. Once the instructor gave the go ahead to exit the pose, I came down with cold floppy arms but finally experienced the essence of Iyenger. This literally happened in the very last pose after a 4 week course!
What is the essence of Iyengar you ask? Well I think I’ve got the answer. Last week, we had a group Q&A with Sharat and someone asked a question about how Iyengar can complement other forms of Yoga? Now, if you want to infuriate a yogi master, this is the question you ask. Naturally, Sharat was a little annoyed but responded with a classy answer. It went a little like this:
If you ask the average person if they’re happy they will likely say they want x and then they’ll be happy. X being more healthy or wanting to achieve some kind of goal etc. We of course reach x but soon after we are back to square 1. This mentality has polluted Yoga. We demand too much from our asanas, and want to be the person who can touch our toes or do a supreme balance pose. When we touch our toes we then want to make our head touch our knees.We are now in a state of Yoga consumerism. Initially you are happy as you have satisfied a goal but it soon wares off. We are in continuous state of trying, goal after goal. In this state we are always looking at the goal without accepting ourselves right here, right now. Many of us are unknowingly in this state of trying. This needs to be balanced with an ‘acceptance state’ and that is where Iyenger comes in. Once in the pose, we hold the pose for a long time and simply accept where we are, without moving towards a specific destination. We merely exist in silence. Often, this is very hard for even the best yoga teachers that pass through the centre. However with the necessary focus and practice we can learn that we don’t need to be anywhere or do anything else but to merely exist in silence.The result being self-acceptance which is what many of are directly or indirectly striving for.
I for one am guilty of this, remember when I said I could touch my toes a couple of weeks back? Initially it was a goal and I did get happy but couldn’t care less about it the next day. I set new goals and on to the next one. After practicing Iyengar, I personally think a balance between the trying and acceptance mode is needed. Trying for a more positive future but also accepting ourselves in the present moment.